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PG&E pledges $100 million to San Bruno

 | Published on 9/14/2010


PG&E pledged $100 million to residents affected by Thursday’s natural gas explosion and to the rebuilding of San Bruno during a press conference Monday afternoon.

A large explosion Thursday afternoon led to a massive fire destroying and damaging numerous homes in San Bruno while injuring and killing some people. Monday afternoon, officials from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, whose line it was that exploded, announced plans to dedicate $100 million to the affected residents and rebuilding on San Bruno. Of that, a $3 million check was given to city officials yesterday to start covering costs already incurred for dealing with the disaster.

“Money can’t return lives. It can’t heal scars or restore values,” said Chris Johns, Pacific Gas and Electric Company president. “Some of the things lost have no monetary value. There is a time for healing and rebuilding. We are committed to making that happen.”

Over the weekend, the PG&E board voted to make up to $100 million available to rebuild the city and cover costs of those affected now, said PG&E President and CEO Peter Darbee. The money, Johns explained, can be used in a number of ways.

First, citizens whose homes were destroyed or damaged will receive $15,000, $25,000 or $50,000 to cover immediate day-to-day expenses, he said. That money will not require a waiver be signed. Second, it will help cover insurance premiums or a lack of insurance. Lastly, the money is for the city to rebuild, said Johns. On that note, a $3 million check was given to Mayor Jim Ruane this morning.

Ruane was thankful for the support from multiple sources that has occurred since Thursday’s incident.

“This has been an overwhelming experience with the blast and the fire ... [and] overwhelming after with the response received from hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals,” said Ruane.

Funds will be administered with the help of government officials, community leaders and organizations such as the American Red Cross and the United Way of the Bay Area.

On Thursday evening, a 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline exploded in a hilly residential area in San Bruno resulting in a deadly fire.

During the press conference, Geisha J. Williams, senior vice president of energy delivery, explained the section of pipe was routinely inspected in November for corrosion, the results of which could not be made available due to the ongoing investigation. In addition, the company inspects the area annually, which occurred in March, she said. This particular type of pipe did not allow for an internal check.

Since Thursday evening, some residents reported having a gas smell in the area. Johns said a review of call records this month showed no such calls. Records going back through July 1 are currently being reviewed. In the meantime, PG&E is trying to reach out to residents reporting the odor to learn which number they called to be sure records are accurate.

In July, neighbors a couple blocks from the site had reported a gas smell. In one instance there was a small leak at the meter which was replaced, said Johns. The other call did not result in finding a leak, he added.

As of now, about 1.5 miles of the natural gas pipeline has been capped. In addition, the amount of gas pumping through local pipelines has been decreased by 10 percent, said Williams.